Friday, May 23, 2014

Hartzler: Those involved in wrongdoing at VA must be removed

(In her weekly newsletter, Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler addresses the growing concerns about the Veterans Administration hospitals.)

The week heading into the Memorial Day weekend featured a number of issues of great importance to our national defense and to the men and women who serve and have served our country.

Treatment of our veterans has been a top issue in the news with allegations of wrongdoing at the VA Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona and concerns about care being provided at VA facilities elsewhere. This week the House approved the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014, H.R. 4031, to address these concerns and to help ensure our veterans are receiving the benefits they have earned. The bill, which I co-sponsor, authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to remove any individual from the Senior Executive Service upon determining that his or her performance warrants removal. And it requires the Secretary to notify the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees within 30 days of each removal.

If there is truth to allegations of delays in care, destruction of property, “secret” waiting lists, and purposeful deceptive record-keeping, it is essential that those involved in the wrong-doing be removed as quickly as possible. Additionally, anyone accused of criminal activity must be charged. Our veterans took the solemn pledge to protect this country and its people. Many served our country in combat zones, with some of them suffering either physical or emotional wounds. All deserve the quality treatment befitting of those who stood up for this country. It is the least we can do to say “thank you.” Mistreatment of our veterans is intolerable. I am committed to making sure these allegations are addressed appropriately and that, if true, these acts of mistreatment are not taking place at our VA medical facilities in Missouri.

Still with military matters, the full House followed the lead of the House Armed Services Committee in approving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2015 fiscal year. The bill we passed takes steps to address limited funding while still making sure our men and women in uniform have what they need to protect our country.

Some of the highlights of this bill include:

Full funding and maintenance, operation, and upgrading of the A-10 “Warthog” fleet, providing our troops with the close air support that has saved numerous American lives; rejection for any new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC); funding for the Growler – the nation’s only full spectrum tactical airborne electronic attack aircraft – that will allow St. Louis-based Boeing to continue the F/A-18 production line, which supports 60,000 jobs and accounts for $3 billion in economic impact; it continues funding for long-range strike bomber research and development; and it maintains TRICARE, military pay, and benefits for our veterans and current men and women in uniform. For details on the NDAA, please visit my website:

The NDAA now moves to the Senate.

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